The attitudes of architects and specifiers on FLEGT Licensing will be the focus of the next EU FLEGT IMM market study. The rationale is that architects are widely regarded as key gatekeepers to the construction sector. They directly specify materials for buildings and can strongly influence client choice and overall design trends. In particular, the profession, as clearly reflected in architectural media, has a strong buy-in on environmental issues and is leading and shaping trends in low-carbon, sustainable construction.
Architects’ finished buildings can also be a reference for the materials palette used and environmental impact approach taken, influencing the wider design and build sectors, and consumers. This is clearly recognised in European timber marketing and communication initiatives.
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), one of the most active marketeers in the sector, targets architects and designers in particular and works with them to create showcase structures and products to highlight the technical performance, environmental credentials and aesthetics of US hardwood.
In France, the public-private Adivbois programme brings together architects, designers, timber products suppliers and timber building specialists. It is currently supporting construction of multi-storey timber-based buildings across the country as inspirational exemplars to help drive the structural and interiors use of wood more widely.
The study will look at architects’ and specifiers’ wider perceptions of timber as a material and associated policy, referring in particular to the role of FLEGT licensing and the VPA process. This will contribute to the IMM’s role in using trade flow and market research to assess trade and market impacts of FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements in the EU and partner countries.
Also covered will be the wood market significance of green building rating systems, their definitions of legality and sustainability and whether they include or exclude FLEGT-licensed timber.
The study will target both small and large architectural practices, and assess their knowledge of and attitudes towards tropical timber relative to other materials, and levels of awareness of the FLEGT VPA process. It will include case studies, and cover how architects and specifiers learn about different materials.
The study will focus on the seven leading EU tropical timber consuming countries, which between them account for 80% of the total imported into the EU (and 90% of timber imported from VPA countries); Germany, Italy, France, the UK, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. These also account for 60% of all EU architects and specifiers. Also included will be Scandinavia, where a number of the world’s largest architectural firms are located.